Gustav Shpet

Gustav Gustavovich Shpet (Russian: Густа́в Густа́вович Шпет; April 7 [O.S. March 26] 1879, Kiev, Russian Empire (present-day Kyiv, Ukraine) – November 16, 1937, Tomsk, Russian SFSR) was a Russian[1] philosopher, historian of philosophy, psychologist, art theoretician, and interpreter (he knew 17 languages) of German-Polish descent. He was a student of a well-known Russian psychologist and philosopher George Chelpanov, a follower of Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, who introduced Husserlian phenomenology to Russia, modifying the phenomenology which he found in Husserl. Shpet was a Vice president of the Russian State Academy of Arts in Moscow (1923—1929). Shpet is an author of many books, including his famous A View on the History of Russian philosophy (Russian: Очерк развития русской философии; in 2 vols.) and The Hermeneutics and its problems (Russian: Герменевтика и её проблемы).


Shpet enrolled in St. Vladimir University of Kiev in 1898, but was expelled for joining a Marxist circle. He never adopted a Marxist philosophical viewpoint, even though he sympathised with the socio-economic aims of Marxism.[2]

As a thinker, he was thoroughly grounded in Russian religious thought of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His philosophy combined Husserl's analysis of the structure of consciousness with Platonism of Orthodoxy, the doctrine of incarnation, and veneration of matter.

In 1921 he founded the Institute of Scientific Philosophy in Moscow.

His espousal of Husserl's phenomenology influenced the literary scholars Michail Petrovskij, Grigorij Vinokur, and Michail Stoljarov.[3]


Shpet was a victim of the Great Purge. He was originally arrested on 14 March 1935, along with several other former colleagues from the State Academy. He was charged with anti-soviet activities, received a sentence of five years internal exile, and was sent to Tomsk, the first university city in Siberia. Here Shpet worked on a new Russian translation of Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit. However, he was arrested again on 27 October 1937 and charged with belonging to a monarchist organisation. He was executed on 16 November 1937.[2]


  1. ^ Gustav Shpet (Great Russian Encyclopaedia)
  2. ^ a b Nemeth, Thomas. "Gustav Shpet (1879—1937)". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  3. ^ Steiner, Peter (1984). "Who Is Formalism, What Is She?". Russian Formalism: 15–43. ISBN 9780801417108. JSTOR 10.7591/j.ctt1g69xpg.4.

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